A Seiko watch is a symbol of the cutting edge of watchmaking innovation and technology, and is known the world over for its reliability and affordability. Seiko, a Tokyo-based company, has built a reputation for excellence because of its long track record of innovation in the watch industry.
Seiko was founded more than 130 years ago by young entrepreneur Kinato Hattori as a shop in the heart of Tokyo specialising in the sale and repair of timepieces. Eleven years later, in 1982, Kinato purchased a factory in Tokyo and began mass-producing his first clock. Manufacturing there was branded under the Seikosha brand. Seiko means “magnificent”, “minute,” or “victory” in Japanese, and “sha” means “home,” therefore the name was perfect for what was to come.
And in other news, Seiko completes 110 years of watchmaking this year! From its first ‘Laurel’ watch to the new Presage editions, it sure made a mark in the industry.
Our Founder, Karishma Karer at The Hour Markers caught up with Niladri Mazumdar, the president and COO of Seiko Watch India Pvt Ltd. and Rajesh Patel, Marketing Head to discuss the brand completing 110 years of watchmaking, what to expect in the future & more!
THM: How has the year been for Seiko so far?
Niladri Mazumdar: It’s been exceptional for Seiko across globally, other than China where the COVID impact still persists. India, specifically, has been extremely positive where the growth rate has been the highest ever for Seiko in the country owing to the team work. The growth rate increase is significant despite us catching up with pre-COVID figures. A lot of this can be attributed to the success of Grand Seiko but, for Seiko as a brand, the Presage and Prospex collections have done exceptionally well. The Seiko 5 Sports series has also gained popularity due to its affordable price point amongst other reasons. Those who like fashion and are buying watches not just for the aesthetics, but because it is a good watch, the Seiko 5 Sports fits in.
THM: When we initially spoke about Grand Seiko, it was believed that it would write down all the success of Seiko from an India perspective. Has that turned around?
Niladri Mazumdar: Yes, to a great extent! It all comes down to two different types of clientele. Grand Seiko appeals to the watch connoisseurs. Even though we’ve been associated with Grand Seiko for about 60 years, in India we have been around only for 3 years. With our presence in other countries for about 11-12 years and competing with the likes of Rolex in a big market like the USA, speaks volumes about us as a brand. It’s the fastest growing brand globally at this price point. On the India front, Seiko has already established itself here. In the future, I see the Prospex collection becoming a strong contender to brands like Tag Heuer or Tudor. With watches in the range of INR 2,50,000 – INR 450,000, one of the goals is to make Prospex the biggest sports brand in the world.
The ever so aesthetically pleasing Presage is the watch for India, until now. With just this collection, we have grown by 261%.
THM: Seiko celebrates 110 years of watchmaking this year. Known for its collaborations, will we see any exciting ones to celebrate this occasion?
Niladri Mazumdar: In India, we launched the Brian May collection across the 5 Sports category. It was a limited edition timepiece and came with special packaging. We sold close to a number in triple digits in a single day of this timepiece. We only sold online; with more than 50 and less than 100 pieces allotted. When we launched, the watch was priced at INR 42,500 and today, that watch is selling in the resale market for INR 80,000 – INR 90,000. You may see unique products specific to India to celebrate this momentous milestone.
We’re probably the only brand to have launched two collections specific to India. From designing, conceptualising to other aspects, everything was done in India. We sold the Lord Collection in almost 80 countries. When that went off, we started another collection called the Coutura. No other brand has collections like this, where the initiation starts from India. Even today, Coutura accounts for 15% of our sales.
Rajesh: With respect to 110 years, Seiko Presage will introduce a limited-edition model for the 110th anniversary of Seiko wristwatches that pays homage to the Laurel and remains faithful to the original design.
THM: Seiko does several limited-edition timepieces. Do these equate to a collector’s timepiece or a collectible?
Niladri Mazumdar: Yes. Limited-editions are centered towards watch collector’s. We get a limited number of pieces and they get sold out almost instantly. But one thing to keep in mind is to not have too many of it, or else one can lose the sanctity of the watch. The number of watches in circulation must have some relevance. For example, we may have a product which is restricted to 110 pieces. The product should be well-differentiated and should have a story while retaining the DNA of the brand.
THM: Japanese or Swiss watchmaking?
Niladri Mazumdar: The first point would be, we take inspiration from the culture and country of Japan. Seiko as a brand likes to talk about the Japanese ethos. Japan has a flavour which is very unique in the world. From its food, current scenario, heritage, behavioral patterns to nature, everything is inspirational. Swiss and Japanese watchmaking has a lot in common, from the finesse of the watches to the people making the watches. Next, the difference is the history. The Swiss have quite a history in the world of watchmaking and so does Seiko. Very few brands have been able to come close to that level. Lastly, the main difference is the design inspiration. The Japanese are gracious and that comes through in the products. You can see a difference in the design philosophy between Japanese and Swiss watchmaking.
With Grand Seiko forming part of Watches and Wonders 2023, opening of a Grand Seiko boutique on Bond Street, London and Seiko completing 110 years, this year is going to be one full of surprises and exciting launches.